Profile aggregators

At an STC meeting earlier in the year, I heard a presentation that mentioned Naymz. It sounded like too much work to keep yet another professional profile up to date, particularly since there was a “popularity contest” or “feeding the virtual pet” aspect to the whole thing, so I passed when a couple of other folks at that meeting invited me to join that network.

More recently, it appears that there are networks popping up that will pre-populate your profile with info gleaned from the web. You then may be stuck between a rock and a hard place: join to make sure the site’s picture of you is accurate, or ignore it and hope that it will either fade away or that the AI engine behind it will pick a reasonable representation of you. If you’ve been careful about maintaining a public web presence, and if your contacts are intelligent in filtering info they find on such sites, there’s probably not much incentive to put effort into correcting/enhancing these profiles.

Two that have popped up recently:

  • Zoominfo.com – I don’t even remember how I tripped over this. My profile’s relatively rich. In a search for my college roommate, I found she was quoted in USA Today earlier in the year. Who knew?
  • Spock.com – there has been a fair amount of traffic about this on the ISF mailing list (see, e.g. zenofnptech). I must admit I was really surprised to get a “trust invite” from Cyber-Yenta Deborah Elizabeth Finn who barely knows me and who was quite clear about her policy of “don’t expect me to accept your LinkedIn invite unless I really can vouch for your work.” It turns out that Spock is one of those sites that’s fairly promiscuous about using any address info you provide and sending invites to others on the site even without your permission will use information, including contacts’ e-mail addresses in ways you don’t expect. The community seems to be hoping it dies a quick death. If someone as smart and ‘net savvy as Deborah can be spoofed here, ordinary mortals need to beware.

But since we’ve been arguing for Open APIs and all data on the ‘net is subject to remixing, these sites, for good are ill, are here to stay.

Be careful out there…


Clarifying edits added in response to comment.

1 thought on “Profile aggregators

  1. Hi Nancy – thanks for your comments. I would like to clarify a few things that you mentioned.

    You refer to Spock as being “promiscuous” about using other people’s address books. I can tell you for a fact that we do not send ANY emails to people unless they are user generated, and the user approves them. Furthermore, when someone does request trust, we clearly state that the other person will get an email to the user.

    I also read your comment about Spock tricking them into sending invites. I do not believe the facts support your case.

    For example, take today’s data:

    Over 1.5 million email address book lookups were conducted by users to see where their friends are on the web. If we were doing what you say, we would be sending out over 1.5 million emails / trust requests per day.

    Instead, only 80,000 trust requests have been sent though those lookups. This means that 95% of the time, users only want to look-up where their friends are on the web, and not invite them to Spock. Which is great, and they have no issue with telling Spock not to send them a trust request. The other 5% of the time, it appears that users want to invite friends to their trust network. We get about 1,500 confirmed trust connections per hour. Which means that of the 80,000 trust request emails, about 36,000 are being confirmed daily by both sides.

    I agree that there are some cases that a user may invite people without wanting to and maybe not reading the instructions carefully. We constantly update the process to make sure it is as clear as possible, and take user feedback very seriously. Most of the changes we made in messaging has been a result of feedback from users.

    If there are other things you believe we can do, please feel free to email me at jay@spock.com.

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